Power cuts hamper sewing business

Load shedding is hampering business at this sewing room in Bonteheuwel.

Faldela Abrahams, of Bonteheuwel, is just one of the many entrepreneurs whose businesses are threatened by load shedding.

She has run a sewing business from her home for seven years, taking orders from clothing stores to keep food on the table for her family and for the families of the ten women who work for her, but load shedding means she can’t always deliver on time, and that’s bad news for her business.

She usually makes between R4 000 and R7 000 a week, but the cost of late deliveries caused by load shedding has wiped out a big chunk of those profits, she says.

Most of the women who work for her are sole breadwinners. With the money not coming in like it once did, they find it hard to buy the basics, such as stationery for their children.

“We end up losing the contracts, and we can’t afford that,” said Ms Abrahams. “The shops don’t trust us anymore because they say we are not reliable.

“We break our backs to put food on our tables, but this is what happens; our work stands still. Some of the ladies work overtime on Saturdays to make more money, but what does that help if they are losing money during the week?”

Last week, Cape Town had Stage 2 load shedding with some areas left in the dark twice a day. On some days, Bonteheuwel had no power in both the morning and the afternoon or even twice in one morning.

Ms Abrahams said some had advised her to get a generator, but she lives next to a lot of elderly people and she’s worried the noise will disturb them.

“I don’t want to spoil my relationships with my neighbours. How can I subject them to such noise? Also, petrol is so expensive, I will have to buy that as well. With the crime rate in Bonteheuwel, it is not safe to have that at your house because they will steal it.”

Late last year, load shedding reached Stage 6, with two-hour power cuts three times a day.

Francine Higham, spokeswoman for Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier, said load shedding was costing the country jobs, but one way to get around it was to turn to an alternative energy source, such as solar power.

“One of the ways to achieve energy security is through the installation of solar photo-voltaic (PV) in your business or home. Solar PV can save you money, protect you from electricity price increases and load-shedding, and help create a greener planet.”

Solar PV not only shielded the public from load shedding and sharp hikes in the price of electricity it was also kinder to the environment, said Ms Higham.

She said the MEC was committed to working with businesses in the province to “drive energy resilience so that we remain open for business”.